13 Small Living Room Ideas Interior Designers Swear By (2024)

Deciding on the right décor for your small living room can be tricky. Along with the fact that you're probably short on storage space, figuring out which furnishings are truly necessary is often a troublesome task. The key is to make sure every item is as functional as it is beautiful, and to make sure the pieces you incorporate suit the room's scale.

Often, this means picking out furniture that not only supports your lifestyle and is visually pleasing, but can pull double duty, too. Once you've got multi-functional furniture in the mix, the next step is to pick out décor that offers a little trompe l'oeil. Think glass, mirrors, and other reflective surfaces.

These are just a few small living room ideas that can help instantly transform your space. Here are more tricks and tips interior designers swear by.

27 Modern Living Room Ideas for a Contemporary Yet Timeless Feel

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Find a Creative Place to Mount Your TV

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A traditional TV console with a table top TV takes up a lot of space, but there are creative ways you can incorporate a TV into your space. "There are so many options now to seamlessly integrate your TV into a gallery wall, above a fireplace, or even into a bookshelf with a telescoping arm to reposition it out of the way when it is not in use," says Christine Kobervig Munger, vice president of merchandising atFernish. "[Some] will even mimic your favorite painting while it is not in use."

For this small living room idea, choose a location that makes viewing comfortable from your main seating area and make sure to choose a TV that fits the size of the space without overwhelming it.

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Work That Fifth Wall

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The ceiling is often underused as a focal point, but when you accentuate this space with wallpaper, a pop of paint color, or interesting lighting, you bring the eye up and create the illusion of more space. "Select a wallpaper scale that accentuates the other design elements in a room," says interior designer AllisonPrior."A large-scale floral would look chic on the ceiling backed to a geometric patterned rug. Use a high-gloss paint to make that ceiling pop, and choose a flush mount that is wide to fill the space and maximize the ceiling."

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Create the Illusion of Taller Windows

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If your small living room has a short ceiling, you can create the illusion of more height by elongating your window coverings. "Hanging window panels at ceiling height and letting them drape slightly on the floor will help create the illusion of vertical space, Munger says. "Place the rods as close to the ceiling as possible and measure the distance between the ceiling and floor and add approximately 6 inches to determine the correct panel lengths."

You can even choose a rod that extends 12 to 18 inches beyond the window frame on both sides of the windows to giving the appearance of wider windows, too.

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Invest in Sconces

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Although ambient lighting is essential to a well-designed living room, large table lamps are often a waste of precious space. "When space is tight, skip table lamps and instead opt for a wall sconce," says Laura Hur, an interior designer and founder of Lorla Studio. "This is a chic way to free up table space while still ensuring your room is well lit."

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Foldaway Furniture

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If you aren't already hip to foldout furniture, now's the time to smarten up. Whether it's a wall-mounted drop-leaf desk or a storage cabinet that opens to reveal a table or bed, foldaway furnishings are great for maximizing a small space, says interior designer Crystal Sinclair.

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Paint a Background for Displaying Art

A little wall paint can go a long way in opening up a cramped living area. "Paint the walls and ceilings of a small living room in a light, bright shade of paint," says interior designer Nina Magon of Contour Interior Design. "If you have a crown or base, it should also be painted in the same shade for consistency." By doing so, Magon says this small living room idea helps create a canvas to display bold art, which creates a focal point, and thus makes the space appear larger than it actually is.

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Make Sure to Measure Everything First

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What's more unfortunate than a tight living room? A tight living room with furniture that doesn't fit. "Always measure all your furniture pieces first to see and how they work together," says Becky Shea, interior designer and founder of Becky Shea Design. "It's important that nothing feels too big or too small. When you appoint pieces that are the right scale for the space, you can enhance the perception of how large the room actually is."

How to Make a Small Room Look Bigger, According to Interior Designers

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Go Dark

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If you're dreaming of a dark color palette for your living room but worried it will make the space seem smaller, our experts say to go for it. "Though it is counterintuitive, the easiest and fastest way to make small spaces feel larger is to go dark," says LeeAnn Baker of LeeAnn Baker Interiors. "Not just on the walls, but on the trim, casework, and ceiling, too. We love to use this as a way to expand the planes of a room. Darker colors also evoke a sense of mood and drama that takes your focus off of the size of the room."

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Forgo Side Tables

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Like it or not, our experts say side tables aren't doing you any favors in a small living room. "Side tables in a small room force you to opt for a shorter sofa than you actually want," says Chris Stout-Hazard of Roger + Chris. "Instead, opt for a wider coffee table or multiple small tables that can be gathered and rearranged to serve the various seating in the room."

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Float Your Furniture

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Ask any interior designer, and they'll tell you the same thing: Your furniture layout can make or break the efficiency of a small living room. "One mistake a lot of people make in small spaces is pushing furniture up against the walls," says Jess Blumberg of Dale Blumberg Interiors. "If you float furniture away from walls, it will actually make the space look larger.

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Create a Focal Point

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Never underestimate the impact of a well-placed focal point in a small living room. Not only can it help tie the other decorative elements together, it can distract attention from the lack of square footage in a space. "Make sure you have an anchor or focal point in your living room to draw the eye to," says Liz Caan of Liz Caan & Co. "Whether it's a tall plant or a large piece of art, it creates scale in a small room while distracting from the actual size of the space."

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Reconsider Your Coffee Table

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Sure, an oversize coffee table is great—if you've got an extra-large living room to use it in. "But when you aren't working with a ton of space in a living room, forgo a traditional coffee table in favor of smaller tables or stools," Hur says. "They provide tons of utility, and can be used as extra seating."

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Lay a Large Rug Down

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When all else fails, our experts says you can always count on a large area rug to open up a small living room. "In a studio or loft, use large, continuous rugs to tie as many elements together as possible," says Rayman Boozer of Apartment 48. "This helps maintain consistency and makes the space feel larger."

13 Small Living Room Ideas Interior Designers Swear By (2024)


What are the 7 rules of interior design? ›

There are seven main principles of interior design: balance, harmony, rhythm, proportion and scale, emphasis, contrast, and details.

What's the golden rule most interior designers follow? ›

Use the Golden Ratio to Balance the Room Lay-Out

Try sticking to roughly 60% of floor space being covered by furniture for an ideal setting. If it's much lower than 60%, it's likely to feel too minimal. In an ideal world, you aim for a layout that leaves 40% of floor space clear, or as 'negative space'.

What is considered a small living room? ›

10 ft x 13 ft

How to arrange sofa and loveseat in small living room? ›

Place your sofa and loveseat facing each other and on the sides, and add a pair of matching chairs – as to form a square shape. Then, in the middle place a round ottoman so you have a tabletop for drinks and snacks. It will look cozy, intimate, and inviting, while not occupying a lot of space.

What is the 60 30 10 rule? ›

This decorating rule suggests that you should cover your room with 60% of a dominant color, 30% of a secondary color, and 10% of an accent shade. It is all about maintaining the perfect balance of tones. Pick colors that mingle well with each other to create a subtle combo.

What are the 3 E's of interior design? ›

Instead of education, experience, and examination, the “three Es” required by the professional interior design organizations (American Society of Interior Designers, International Interior Design Association, and the Association of Registered Interior Designers of Ontario) for membership, the IDPC has suggested that ...

What is the 2 3 couch rule? ›

“The 2:3 design rule suggests your sofa should be the equivalent of ⅔ the size of your room.” However, if your living room is also your dining room or home office, that may not be possible, explains the designer.

What is the 60 30 10 rule in interior design? ›

To put it simply, this rule says that the dominant/primary colour should take up 60% of your design, the secondary colour should take up 30%, while an accent colour should take up 10% of your design.

What is the 60 40 rule for furniture? ›

The golden ratio helps achieve a balanced room layout by assessing the floor space covered by furniture. Striking the right balance means that nearly 60% of your room will have furniture on it, with 40% being clear.

How do you decorate a very small living room? ›

The right color scheme will instantly make a small living room look larger. Since pale and cool colors reflect light, paint colors such as bright white and light blue can create the illusion of a bigger space. Painting woodwork, trim, and doors the same color as walls also helps them "disappear."

How to decorate a small living room simple? ›

Very Small Living Room Ideas
  1. Use color to define spaces. ...
  2. Use L-shaped seating. ...
  3. Stick with a color scheme. ...
  4. Use a dining table to define the living room boundaries. ...
  5. Small furniture, but make it luxurious. ...
  6. Use every corner to your advantage.
Dec 11, 2023

How do you simplify a small living room? ›

Keep It Simple. Simplicity is at the core of minimalist interiors. Edit the living room and remove any unnecessary pieces that don't serve a key functional or decorative purpose. Remove or hide cords that clutter the floor, streamline decorative accents, and keep surfaces clean to maintain a calm atmosphere.

Where to put sofa and TV in small living room? ›

Focal Point Layout

Plan a small living room layout around a designated focal point. A TV, fireplace, window, or wall decor can all serve as the room's center of attention. Position furnishings around or directly facing the focal point to maintain a clear view.

Should you put a sectional in a small living room? ›

Sectional sofas can be a good option for small spaces. Because they come apart into separate sections, they're very versatile and can be designed to fit rooms of different shapes and sizes.

Where should a sofa be placed in a living room? ›

All the heavy pieces of furniture like the sofas should be placed in the west or southwest direction of the living room. Arrange the sofa against the north or the east wall. Install the TV unit in the southeast side of the living room.

What are the 7 fundamental principles of design? ›

The fundamental principles of design are: Emphasis, Balance and Alignment, Contrast, Repetition, Proportion, Movement and White Space. Design differs from art in that it has to have a purpose. Visually, this functionality is interpreted by making sure an image has a center of attention, a point of focus.

What are the do's and don'ts of interior design? ›

The 10 Biggest Interior Design Do's and Don'ts
  • Dos.
  • Purchase Plush Pillows. ...
  • Leave Space Around Your Furniture. ...
  • Utilize Relevant and Appropriately-Scaled Lighting. ...
  • Choose Paint Colors That Enhance the Look of a Room. ...
  • Purchase an Appropriately-Sized Area Rug. ...
  • Don'ts.
  • Over-Matching Furniture and Textiles.

What is the 2 3 rule in interior design? ›

You've probably heard of the 2:3 rule, otherwise known as the 'golden ratio'. Ideally, every room should follow this. Start by dividing a room into two sections – the larger one should measure 2:3 of the space, and be the area for big pieces of furniture such as your sofa, bed or dining table.

What is the 60 40 rule in interior design? ›

The golden ratio helps achieve a balanced room layout by assessing the floor space covered by furniture. Striking the right balance means that nearly 60% of your room will have furniture on it, with 40% being clear.

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